Life is Out There; We'll Find It!

This is the question we ask in our quest to understand and explain the origin and nature of life in the universe. Exploration and discovery are our passion and we share our work with all humanity.

ataAre we alone?

This is the question we ask in our quest to understand and explain the origin and nature of life in the universe. Exploration and discovery are our passion and we share our work with all humanity.

We are a nonprofit, multidisciplinary research and education organization, and we welcome philanthropic contributions from individuals, private foundations, corporations and other groups to support our education and outreach initiatives, as well as unfunded science research and fieldwork.

scientist 100+ Scientists

The scientists in our Carl Sagan Center for Research conduct groundbreaking work pertaining to fundamental questions about the origin and proliferation of life right here on Earth and beyond. From the early universe and the formation of galaxies, stars, planets, moons and other small bodies, to the prevalence of environments that can support life, intelligence, and technology, we seek to answer the question, “are we alone?”

We partner with NASA, the National Science Foundation and other institutions in areas of basic research, and support science missions. We also conduct research in non-human communication, quantum astronomy, and the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI), using both radio and optical telescopes.

students500,000+ Students Impacted

Our Center for Education develops STEM resources that teach, excite and inspire children, young adults and educators. From space science badges for Girl Scouts, to professional development training for high school science teachers, to a multidisciplinary research accelerator for machine learning and planetary science, our education programs are fostering future leaders to further our work.

teachersMillions and Millions of People Inspired

Our Center for Outreach is driven by the idea that science is not just for scientists. Understanding the workings of our universe does more than merely satisfy curiosity; it also places humanity in a greater context. It also gives us the tools to be better stewards of Earth and prepare us for the future. We share our passion and journey in real life, over the airwaves and online through programs that engage and inspire.

Our Centers


Carl Sagan Center

The Carl Sagan Center for Research at the SETI Institute is home to more than 100 scientists working across nearly all branches of science to address questions around the development of life, where else in the universe it might exist and how we can find it. more


Center for Education

Are we alone in the Universe? Is there life beyond Earth? How can we search for evidence of life in our Solar System and beyond? These questions motivate people to learn about our natural world, and are at the core of our Center for Education. The Center promotes STEM education through NASA- and NSF-funded programs aimed at teaching and inspiring children, young adults and educators with emphasis on space sciences and astrobiology. more


Center for Outreach

Science is not just for scientists. We hope everyone can share our passion and journey with us as we ask the question "are we alone?". Outreach activities take place online, in the real world and over the airwaves. Our programs in clude SETI Talks, our monthly lecture series, Big Picture Science podcast and radio program, Journey monthly newsletter and Explorer magazine. more

Our Team

History of the SETI Institute

The SETI Institute was incorporated as a 501(c)3 California Non-Profit Corporation on November 20, 1984. The inaugural officers of the Institute were CEO Thomas Pierson and SETI scientist Jill Tarter. The Institute began operations on February 1, 1985.

Prior to the inception of the SETI Institute, NASA was funding a small project in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence. John Billingham, Chief of Life Sciences at NASA Ames Research Center and Bernard (Barney) Oliver, formerly of Hewlett-Packard invited Tom Pierson and others into discussions about maximizing the effectiveness of the funds, and ways of putting more money into the research and less into institutional overhead. These discussions led to the concept of a dedicated non-profit research organization focused on research and education around the factors of the Drake Equation. This vision was realized in the 1984 incorporation of the SETI Institute. more